Once a color has been chosen and a tolerance set, it is important to monitor the color and ensure that parts are within tolerance. Most fabricators let gelcoat companies handle color control, but monitoring incoming materials and final parts is just as important. At Kreysler & Associates, the most commonly seen issues with color are due to processing and incoming material. Controlling temperature, initiator percent, atomizing air pressure and release agent will help minimize color variation.
To ensure incoming material is not an issue, a color placard should be made with the same processing steps as the final parts for each gelcoat batch. The placard can then be used to verify that the incoming material will match. With a color meter, this match can be verified numerically and plotted on a control chart as a pre-emptive quality control step.
In summary, handling color in house offers benefits beyond the ability to control and quickly custom match. When tolerances are discussed and set up between the supplier, fabricator and customer, costly mistakes can be avoided. Once understood thoroughly, color can become a tool rather than a burden, allowing shops small and large to make unique products.